Having debt can be paralyzing. I know from experience. One day you are living your life and having fun, and the next you wake up with a pile of credit card or student loan statements. The interest rates and balances are nauseating. You might feel like you can never go to brunch again, let alone spa weekend with the girls.

Debt can be sneaky. Especially when you are working on your career, living in an expensive city, going on a last minute trip to France, or helping family members with hardship, stuck with an expensive health bill, or find you have to move to a new apartment (hello broker fee, deposit, first and last months’ rent). The list goes on.

If you are tired of feeling ashamed about having debt or afraid of the future, take a deep breath and begin building your roadmap to freedom with these three steps.

  1. Organize your debt: Write down or use excel to list the debt type, balance, interest rate, minimum payment. Knowing what you have is so important. It will help us tackle it in a smarter way.

  2. Make a spending plan. What is your monthly income? What are your expenses? Rent, phone, cable, utilities, groceries, transportation, haircuts, gym, kids’ activities, entertainment… Whatever you spend money on, track it. Download my “Take Control and Make Smart Financial Decisions” Financial Workbook to help you with this process.

  3. Go cash-only and put the credit cards away. When you find that you have wiggle room in your spending plan, make an extra payment to your highest interest rate debt.

Remember that you have the power to change things. Empower yourself to make decisions about what’s most important to you. If you believe you can do it, I know you will see progress. Soon enough you will be planning your next trip to Europe and going on the adventure of a lifetime.